It is with a heavy heart and a weeping beard that we must write to inform you that the dream of competing in the 2011 World Beard and Moustache Champs in Norway is no longer a reality.
Due to financial difficulties (both in the forms of sponsorship searches and personal fundraising) we were unable to raise the required $$ to get to Trondheim and compete. We tried as many avenues and contacts that we could think of; we slimmed down the team; we tried selling things; we made videos; but due to the current economic climate the funds were not readily available... and deep down we knew that this was most likely to be the case - but you will never truly know until you try.
We would like to thank each and every person who has shown support of this endeavor in the past 11months. It has meant so much to be able to connect with people within New Zealand and around the world on the basis of having a hairy chin. These whiskers certainly stand out in a crowd, and we have enjoyed sharing our hairy passion with the people we have met.
During our road to this point we have had some marvelous opportunities sent our way: interviews on TV and radio; articles in newspapers and magazines; zany photo and video shoots with other talented locals. It has meant a lot to us to be able to do these things, and to have had the support of these groups as we try to share our story with New Zealand.
The whole concept of competitive bearding brings smiles to faces - and while the first reaction is always laughter, the sheer joy and excitement that can be spread by a conversation about world class beard is something to behold - and it is a memory that will last with us.
It is Thursday March 24th 2011. The car is loaded up with prizes (fine engraved steins!), badges, flyers, and people and head off from Hamilton to the Beach Hop.
Beach Hop is New Zealand's number 1 Nostalgia Festival that celebrates the best of the 50's & 60's. It is NOT a "Hip Hop" festival! It features lots of amazing cars, rocking bands, retro fashion and in 2011 - BEARDS AND MOUSTACHES. This is not to say that facial hair hasn't been present in previous years - just that in 2011 the whiskered gents had a chance to really celebrate their hairyness.
Our first stop at Beach Hop was in Tairua. The weather was slightly overcast, but pleasant and we wandered up and down the rows of cars - marvelling at these magnificent constructions. Each one a work of art and passion. Whilst admiring the cars and listening to the rock'n'roll we managed to strike up conversations with many fellow beardsmiths. Each one was pleasant, and seemed genuinely surprised and somewhat entertained by the concept of a facial hair competition. We gave out many flyers and talked enthusiastically about facial hair in NZ.
The most common facial hair style amongst those in attendance seemed to be the goatee... followed closely by a big bushy moustache. One of the standout beards was from a gent who had a number of facial piercings with long flowing purple hair and a long flowing purple full beard to match! Quite a sight.
Friday was to be a Onemana... but unfortunately the weather stopped most of the cars from heading out to that particular spot, so an impromptu gathering took place at Whangamata - the main base for the hop. We braved the rain to make a few more beardy connections and also found time to enjoy some hot waffles and ice-cream (it had to be done, as the 25th March is apparently Waffle Day).
To beard or not to beard, that was my question, and what a question it was.
In the end I decided not to beard. There were a few reasons behind this and I am going to discuss them now. I'll also talk about the reactions I got to the departure of my beard.
Cutting and shaving off my beard was not an easy decision to make and I agonized over it for weeks. The beard was just finding itself, hitting its stride and reaching championship proportions. It was large, thick, and healthy, altering my appearance and hiding most of my neck. It drew compliments from gents even while I suspect it scared women and children. It was ready to compete internationally. It could have been a contender!
I must mention that while most of my facial hair has gone, my moustache remains, trim and tidy, just curling at the edges. Leaving this strip of hair above my lip softened the resulting physical transformation. Nonetheless, once my beard was gone, I looked as if I'd lost weight, as if some of my face had been taken away. In a way, it had.
So, why did I take razor to face? To start with, this man is looking for work and it's the kind of work that makes demands on my appearance. I'm not going to get into the details of that, but basically I deemed that the beard would have a negative effect on both my employability and on the work itself. A man's got to earn some money. Yes, economics helped kill my beard.
It may seem that all has been quiet on the bearded front in the past few weeks, but many things have been going on behind the scenes. Theatre, weddings, competitions and tough decisions have all been on the cards. But such is the life of a beardsmith.
We were involved in the show 'Jungle Boogie' at the Gardens Festival in a brief cameo role as a couple of retired (and hirsute) explorers. It was great fun (but ridiculously warm) wearing suits in the English garden and being cranky old gents.
More recently, Jason got married on the weekend in what proved to be a wedding full of facial hair. Many of the attendees had some form of whisker, including Jeremy as the bearded celebrant. It was a night full of delicious dessert treats, dancing, and somehow we got to creating a human pyramid with 15 of the guests.
In the lead up to the wedding, Jason made the tough decision to shave off his beard. He now sports a fine moustache that was prominently on show for the wedding. In our next blog he will go in to more details about the shaving, the thoughts behind it, and how it feels to no longer have a big bushy beard.
Dear Joaquin Phoenix's (during his pretend crazy phase) beard,
Well done you! Bravo! It may be that you were grown as a mere accessory, a mere prop to enhance Joaquin's performance, and that you were somewhat shabby and unkempt, but despite this, you were an impressive specimen. It may be that you were grown for a duplicitous purpose not unlike a law enforcer going under cover as a biker gang member, but regardless, you were a real beard! Never forgot this. Your coverage and colouring was even (excusing some greys beneath the mouth), only your moustache looked wonky due to Joaquin's hare lip. The saddest thing is that neither your owner nor the world was ready for you. You were ahead of your time. We wish you were still here.
Jeremy and Jason
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